Beth Am Synagogue Food and Kashrut Policy Guidelines
Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg
Revised July, 2019 ~ Tamuz 5779
“One thing you should do is keep a kosher home, so anyone can eat in your home”
— Dr. Louis Kaplan
- Beth Am is a big-tent congregation with various levels of knowledge, observance and Jewish practice. This diversity is a strength: allowing us to form a cohesive and mission-oriented community from our erev rav (mixed multitude).
- Beth Am has been and continues to be a congregant-driven shul. Our diverse community is one that feeds one another!
- Beth Am has, for close to 20 years, been affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and its rabbi is an ordained Conservative rabbi. This affiliation means the rabbi and the shul have a responsibility to uphold halakha as determined by the Mara D’atra (lit. “master of the place,” primary legal authority – i.e. Rabbi Burg). It also means there are broader Jewish communal expectations for certain halakhic standards of practice from current and prospective members and visitors.
As Beth Am completes our Phase I renovation project (especially, our new catering kitchen), we must:
- Concretize and communicate policies with regard to food, kashrut and Shabbat observance.
- Determine how best to honor:
- Diverse congregant needs and practices
- Commitment to Jewish values of Shabbat and kashrut
- Congregant participation
- Beth Am’s kitchen is designated as a fully kosher facility with primary intended use for storing/warming dairy/pareve food but with the ability to serve meat as well. Any outside prepared food brought into the kitchen will need to come from a kosher facility or household as determined by the rabbi in his role as mashgiach. Ensuring the kosher sourcing of food products and prepared food will be the rabbi’s responsibility with support from the executive director.
- Access to the kitchen will be limited to specific designated staff/clergy/volunteers with training in kosher food prep.
- The executive director (or his/her designee) and the kiddush chair will work collaboratively with the rabbi’s guidance and direction to implement policy.
- Beth Am will accommodate occasional fleishig (meat) service from certified kosher restaurants or caterers. We will also maintain adequate solutions for surfaces outside the kitchen (e.g. fleishig kids trays for high chairs)
- Beth Am will implement the following color-coded system for staging meals:
- Blue (permitted in the kitchen): Pareve or dairy food prepared in a kosher commercial kitchen or factory.
- Purple (permitted in the kitchen with the rabbi’s approval): Pareve or dairy food prepared in a kosher home kitchen
- Yellow (permitted only in kitchen-extension): Ingredient kosher (but not necessarily hekhshered) food prepared in a “not yet” kosher home. Or food purchased from a non-kosher commercial vendor, such as take-out vegetarian pizza or vegan/veggie/fish prepared foods without kosher certification but containing no prohibited ingredients.
- No treyf items (e.g. pork, shellfish, non-kosher poultry/beef, meat and dairy combinations like cheeseburgers, etc.) are permitted* at Beth Am spaces or functions.
*Exception: sealed, packaged foods for purposes of donation to the needy with special dispensation from the rabbi.
- For functions like b’nai mitzvah and weddings, we encourage use of kosher caterers and our executive director will maintain a list of approved kosher caterers.
- Recognizing the cost of kosher catering can be prohibitive for some, and understanding our diversity of practice, we will also permit specific approved non-kosher caterers who understand our above policies and principles. When using one of these caterers, families will be expected to provide some amount of comparable hekhsher-kosher fare for those in our community who observe stricter kashrut.
- When providing food for classes, meetings, kiddush luncheons and events, Beth Am will strive to provide hekhsher-kosher catering and food whenever possible. When budget or other circumstances makes this onerous, we will hold ourselves to the same standards of providing adequate amounts of clearly-labeled, hekhsher-kosher food for those who need it.
- Gatherings at people’s homes or outside facilities (when they are official Beth Am events) will be expected to abide by similar guidelines. No treyf should be served, and a reasonable effort should be made to accommodate those with stricter levels of kashrut observance.
- Finally, honoring and observing Shabbat are important values of Beth Am synagogue. Food served at Beth Am or for official Beth Am events should not* be cooked or baked on Shabbat.
*Any exceptions (i.e. use of a “Shabbos goy”) must be approved on a case-by-case basis by the rabbi